What started as a casual hobby has now become something you can't live without, and you play pickleball all the time. You’re sure that you’ve improved over time, but you've never rated your skills before. Sound familiar? You're not alone, all pickleball players in your position start to wonder where they rank. Here's how to find out:
Most pickleball players figure out their skill level by self-rating, where they rate themselves from 1.0 to 5.5 or higher. More impartial and accurate ratings exist, such as UTPR, which is a rating system operated by USA Pickleball. It only factors tournament results from PickleballTournaments.com.
Unfortunately, navigating pickleball ratings can be overwhelming if it's your first time, but that ends today. This guide will simplify and demystify pickleball ratings by showing you how pickleball ratings are determined, helping you estimate where you fit in, and telling you what to do next for your official rating. First, let's look at what goes into pickleball skill ratings.
How Do You Determine Your Skill Level in Pickleball?
A pickleball player's skill level is determined by looking at physical and strategic abilities, namely control, consistency, and adaptability. Physically, this includes forehands, serves, dinks, volleys, etc. Strategically, this includes adaptive play styles, pace control, tactical placement, etc.
There are far more variables that go into skill ratings, but mastery of control, consistency, and flexibility separate each tier. This is reflected in USA Pickleball's skill assessment sheets.
The truth is, nearly everything that could happen on the court, be it physical or mental, is factored into each rating.
What Are the Different Pickleball Levels for Rating Skills?
Using USA Pickleball standards as guidance, pickleball ratings are scaled from 1.0 to 5.5+, where 1.0 is a beginner and 5.5 or higher is a player with professional playing abilities. While this scale consists of 2 digits, other systems, like UTPR, use 4 digits that are based on tournament play.
Because there’s so much information attached to each skill level, it's best to start small and build your understanding of what each level means. So, for a better understanding of each rating and how you may fit into the skill levels, we've built a 3-step process to simplify the system.
3 Steps to Determine Your Skill Level in Pickleball
Depending on the approach - self-rating vs UTPR vs DUPR - skill ratings can be a mix of art and science. To get started though, it's best to get an idea of what skill levels mean, even though they may shift a bit depending on the source.
In a simplified view, there are 3 steps to determining your skill level (skill rating) in pickleball:
- Know the skill levels in pickleball - top-level summary
- Gauge where you might fit into the ratings - searchable table
- Refine with USA Pickleball standards - skill assessment sheets
This guide will walk you through all 3 steps in greater detail so that after completing the last step, you'll understand the system well enough to know where you'll rate.
1. Gauging Your Pickleball Skill Rating
Sticking with USA Pickleball's 2-digit scale, let's begin by looking at a simple summary of pickleball player skill rating definitions:
Now that you have a general idea of each level, let's get more granular. The table below will give you greater detail about the specifics of the rating, per USA Pickleball's guidance, helping you better gauge where you might ultimately be.
2. Gauging Your Pickleball Skill Rating With 7 Criteria
If you suspect you're a 1.0 to 2.5, skip this table and scroll to the next section. If you believe you're a 3.0 player or higher, continue reading the instructions for the searchable table.
In the searchable table above, type the 2-digit number you suspect fits your skill rating best. (Be sure to place a "." between the two digits! For example, "3.0,” NOT “3.")
Try entering a couple of numbers and read the description of each. So, if you suspect you're a 3.5, type that in first, then check out 3.0 and 4.0. If you're stuck between 2 numbers, that's fine.
Many pickleball players struggle to understand the difference between ratings and how good a certain rating is. Let's look at a couple of the most common questions surrounding both.
3. Validating Your Pickleball Rating by USA Pickleball Standards
Are you getting a better idea of where you might fit in rating-wise? Perfect! Whether you think a rating suits you perfectly or you're stuck between a couple of them, the skill assessment sheets created by USA Pickleball will help you settle the debate.
Keep in mind that each rating builds on the one prior, so while a specific one may not be mentioned at each progression, assume that the next rating level is already proficient in all skills from previous ratings.
For anyone suspecting a rating other than 1.0, click on the links below for the corresponding ratings from USA Pickleball's skill assessment sheets:
- 2.0 Skill Assessment Sheet
- 2.5 Skill Assessment Sheet
- 3.0 Skill Assessment Sheet
- 3.5 Skill Assessment Sheet
- 4.0 Skill Assessment Sheet
- 4.5 Skill Assessment Sheet
- 5.0 Skill Assessment Sheet
You may have noticed the absence of links for 1.0 and 5.5+ skill assessment sheets. That's because there aren't any skill assessment sheets for either.
If you suspect you may be in either level or just have a general interest in both, here are the unofficial definitions for them:
1.0 Skill Rating
USA Pickleball says that 1.0 pickleball players are just starting to play and have no other sports background. They have a slight grasp of the basics and rules of pickleball - just enough to play a game, albeit likely with some help. Their form, control, and consistency are lacking.
5.5+ Skill Rating
Just a few pickleball players reach this level; USA Pickleball refers to 5.5+ pickleball players as top caliber. This means they've mastered every skill on the 5.0 skill assessment sheet and improved upon it.
They play at the highest level of excellence, from casual to tournament play. Their tournament win streak is a mile long, and there may be no one better than them or very few who can go toe-to-toe with them!
What’s the Difference between 3.5 and 4.0 Pickleball Players?
The difference between a 3.5 and a 4.0 pickleball player is that a 4.0 has improved consistency, control of shots, and strategic ability. They more consistently land serves, returns, dinks, etc. with control of pace and placement. They’re also acutely aware of an opponent's strengths and weaknesses.
Far more goes into the differences, but in general, a 4.0 player has vastly better consistency, control, and strategic capabilities.
For example, a 3.5 may know the difference between power shots and soft shots, but a 4.0 knows when to deploy them against their opponent. They can shift between low-, high-, and medium-paced shots without a second thought.
How Good Is a 5.0 Pickleball Player?
The 5.0 pickleball players, while not the best players on the planet, are regionally some of the best players. Their level of mastery over every technique in pickleball is enough to consistently win tournaments and acclaim. While they may not make it pro, they’re just a step before that.
These players recognize that there’s still room for growth, and many of them aspire to be among the best in the 5.5+ player class.
Where Do You Find Your Pickleball Rating?
This article was built to help you get a firm understanding of pickleball ratings, and at this point, you should have a solid idea of not only each rating but also where you possibly rate.
Now that you understand more about the pickleball rating system, where do you find yours?
To make things more official, we're going to talk through a few of the different rating systems, which you can use to get a proper pickleball rating - including self-rating, UTPR, and DUPR.
- Self-Rating: This involves you assessing your skills against USA Pickleball's skill assessment sheets, which we discussed above.
- UTPR: This is a player rating system based solely on the results of USA Pickleball-sanctioned tournaments.
- DUPR: This dynamic rating system uses numerous variables with ordinal ratings in each, and it recognizes pickleball tournaments and recreational play.
What Is Self-Rating in Pickleball?
Pickleball self-rating assesses a player's skills against USA Pickleball's skill assessment sheets. It's a 2-digit rating that any player can input into Pickleballtournaments.com. Self-rating can be any score a player gives themselves.
Before 2019, you had to send a request to USA Pickleball with a letter of support from a USAPA ambassador, tournament director, or tournament-rated player for pickleball ratings. Fortunately, that's no longer the case.
Pros and Cons of Self-Rating
Self-rating is great because it's easy to do, and you don't have to play in tournaments to have a rating. It includes two major disadvantages: operating on a 2-digit system, which is less accurate than a 4-digit system, and players being able to populate the rating with anything they want.
Using a free account through Pickleballtournaments.com, you can take the skill assessment sheets and input your ratings on the site to reflect the self-rating. Theoretically, your score could be anything you desire, but USA Pickleball recommends getting someone else who's experienced in the game to rate you.
The best part of using this self-rating system via Pickleballtournaments.com is it makes the transition into UTPR that much easier.
What Is UTPR in Pickleball?
UTPR stands for USA Pickleball Tournament Player Ratings, and it's a rating system sanctioned by USA Pickleball through Pickleballtournaments.com. It uses USA Pickleball-sanctioned tournament results and opponent UTPR to populate a player's UTPR. This rating can be 4 digits or rounded to 2 digits.
Players can have a unique UTPR for singles, doubles, and mixed doubles, depending on what events they play at pickleball tournaments.
Pros and Cons of UTPR
UTPR is an unbiased form of player ratings because of how it sources information from sanctioned tournaments and how it measures performance on a 4-digit scale. But, because it requires sanctioned pickleball tournaments to source, this means players who compete in unsanctioned tournaments and players who don't compete in tournaments can’t have a rating in the UTPR system.
What Is DUPR in Pickleball?
DUPR is an acronym for Dynamic Universal Pickleball Rating, which is commonly referred to as the most inclusive and accurate rating system in pickleball. It takes into account multiple playing formats, such as rec and tournament, uses a 3-digit system, and rates player attributes on the same scale.
It includes a rating for singles and one for doubles, but not a mixed doubles rating. As it spans all geographies, ages, and skills, DUPR is truly a global solution for accurate player ratings in pickleball.
Pros and Cons of DUPR
DUPR is the most advantageous rating system since it takes score differentials into account in its ratings and accepts both rec and tournament scores. Its limitations are the result of its advantages - that being a unique rating for mixed doubles.
But altogether, DUPR is widely accepted as the pickleball rating authority because of its broad acceptance of different kinds of games, the advanced scale of its ratings, and its uniformity of measurement.
Growing Your Pickleball Skills
Playing with people who are better or worse than you and making sure to challenge yourself every time will help you grow as a player.
Your skills won’t develop overnight, but if you keep practicing and performing, and eventually enter tournaments, your ratings will certainly start to see an improvement.
USA Pickleball's skill assessment sheets are excellent benchmarks for tracking your pickleball improvement but don't lose sight of the game’s fun factor.
Pickleball was meant to be a social game. The first intention was to entertain, after all, so try not to get bogged down by measurements and ratings.